Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report

Date:
April 24, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Does hearing that you are a member of an elite group – of chess players, say, or scholars – enhance your performance on tasks related to your alleged area of expertise? Not necessarily, say researchers who tested how sweeping pronouncements about the skills or likely success of social groups can influence children's performance. The researchers found that broad generalizations about the likely success of a social group – of boys or girls, for example – actually undermined both boys' and girls' performance on a challenging activity.

Does hearing that you are a member of an elite group -- of chess players, say, or scholars -- enhance your performance on tasks related to your alleged area of expertise? Not necessarily, say researchers who tested how sweeping pronouncements about the skills or likely success of social groups can influence children's performance.

Related Articles


The researchers found that broad generalizations about the likely success of a social group -- of boys or girls, for example -- actually undermined both boys' and girls' performance on a challenging activity.

The new study appears in the journal Psychological Science.

"Some children believe that their ability to perform a task is dictated by the amount of natural talent they possess for that task," said University of Illinois psychology professor Andrei Cimpian, who led the study. "Previous studies have demonstrated that this belief can undermine their performance. It is important, therefore, to understand what leads children to adopt this belief."

The researchers hypothesized that exposure to broad generalizations about the abilities of social groups induces children to believe that success depends on "natural talent." If the hypothesis were correct, then hearing messages such as "girls are very good at this task," should impair children's performance by leading them to believe that success depends primarily on innate talent and has little to do with factors under their control, such as effort.

In line with this hypothesis, two experiments with 4- to 7-year-olds demonstrated that the children performed more poorly after they were exposed to information that associated success on a given task with membership in a certain social group, regardless of whether the children themselves belonged to that group.

"These findings suggest we should be cautious in making pronouncements about the abilities of social groups such as boys and girls," Cimpian said. "Not only is the truth of such statements questionable, but they also send the wrong message about what it takes to succeed, thereby undermining achievement -- even when they are actually meant as encouragement."

The research team also included scientists from Sun Yat-sen University, in Guangdong, China; and Carnegie Mellon University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Cimpian, Y. Mu, L. C. Erickson. Who Is Good at This Game? Linking an Activity to a Social Category Undermines Children's Achievement. Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611429803

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100030.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012, April 24). Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100030.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100030.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins